HEARTS have turned down an offer of a deal from Rangers that would have allowed them to settle their oustanding tax bill.

Ibrox chief executive Charles Green proposed paying the Tynecastle club £500,000 to settle the remainder of what Rangers owe on the transfers of Lee Wallace and David Templeton.

However, the actual amount outstanding is £800,000 and Hearts, who must find £450,000 to avoid a bid by Her Majesty's Customs & Revenue to put them into liquidation, dismissed the offer as "opportunistic".

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Rangers offered to pay early, but less, apparently in the hope that Hearts' grave financial predicament would force them to accept the reduced amount. Hearts' view was that they could not be seen to be asking supporters to dig deep to save the club while simultaneously striking deals to write off £300,000.

Turning down the chance of an immediate cash injection to pay the £450,000 tax bill might lead some Hearts supporters to feel optimistic that the position is not quite as serious as has been portrayed – there is still a disputed £1.7m tax bill hanging over the club – but the messages were mixed yesterday.

An interview with Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov appeared in the Lithuanian media in which he revealed that he had been unable to pay wages or bonuses to the players of his basketball team, Zalgiris Kaunas, for three months.

"Now I am preparing a food parcel so they can eat," he said, with apparent gallows humour.

l Romanov holds all the cards; Brian Kennedy, Page 13